On Tuesday, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and another woman were released after their two-week captivity in the Palestinian enclave, leaving around 220 hostages still in Hamas’s hands.
Yocheved Lifshitz, who was held hostage in Gaza after being abducted during Hamas’s attack on Israel, speaks to media in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
On October 7, when Hamas began its devastating attack on Israel, Yocheved Lifshitz was one among the many who were taken hostage into Gaza. On Tuesday, she and another woman were released after their two-week captivity in the Palestinian enclave, leaving around 220 hostages still in Hamas’s hands.
“I’ve been through hell, we didn’t think or know we would get to this situation,” the 85-year-old told reporters, seated in a wheelchair outside the Tel Aviv hospital where she was taken following her release, according to CNN.
Explaining how the kidnapping took place, she said in Hebrew, “I was kidnapped on a motorbike on my side while they were driving toward Gaza,” Lifschitz said. Her daughter explained how her head lay on one side of the motorbike while her feet dangled from the other.
After being slung over the back of a motorbike and hit with sticks, Lifschitz told reporters that she was taken underground. “They walked for a few kilometres on the wet ground,” she said, while adding: “There is a huge network of tunnels underneath. It looks like a spiderweb.”
The 85-year-old said that there were doctors waiting to receive the hostages as they were initially divided into groups of 25 and then later into smaller groups of 5. Her group consisted of other individuals from a kibbutz near hers.
“As we got there, the people told us that they are people who believe in the Quran and they will not harm us, and we will get the same conditions they get in the tunnels,” Lifschitz said. “There were guards and a paramedic and a doctor who took care of the fact that we’ll have the same medicine that we need,” she added.
Lifschitz went onto blame the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for not taking Hamas’s threats seriously and said that the country’s sophisticated border fence didn’t help at all.
“The lack of awareness by Shin Bet and the IDF hurt us a lot. Hamas warned us three weeks beforehand, they burned fields, they sent fire balloons and the IDF did not treat it seriously,” she said.
The two freed hostages were taken out of Gaza at the Rafah crossing into Egypt, where they were put into ambulances, according to footage shown on Egyptian TV. The two women, along with their husbands, were snatched from their homes in the kibbutz of Nir Oz near the Gaza border